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Alexander Mogilny’s omission reveals key flaws in Hall of Fame selection process

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Photo credit:LeafsAlumni/Twitter
Arun Srinivasan
18 days ago
Alexander Mogilny’s habitual omission from the Hockey Hall of Fame becomes incrementally more insulting every year. Mogilny has been eligible for induction since 2009 and for myriad reasons — some concrete, others speculative — he’s been effectively barred from the Hall, for seemingly no reason.
In the past, some have cited geopolitical concerns, a vague description to describe the uneasiness surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s a valid reason, although if we thoroughly examined the IIHF’s selective memory when it comes to war crimes, a certain hypocrisy would be revealed in plain sight. This is no longer much of an excuse either as countryman Pavel Datsyuk, a two-way dynamo with the Detroit Red Wings, was named as the arguable headliner of the 2024 class.
Mogilny’s political bravery and on-ice excellence should be rewarded in tandem by the Hall, and yet he’s inexplicably viewed as persona non grata at 30 Yonge Street. He recorded 473 goals and 1,032 points during his decorated NHL career, which begun after a prodigious run at CSKA Moscow. Mogilny became the first NHL draftee to defect from the Soviet Union in order to play in the league, which requires a element of courageousness that can’t be quantified in the dim terms of NHL’s monoculture. He was the precursor for explosion of Russian talent in the NHL, where the Detroit Red Wings directly benefited from several contributions from Russian players to propel their mini-dynasty at the turn of the century.
If you don’t believe us, and evidently the Hall’s shrouded process naturally invites disbelief, let’s hear it from Mogilny’s peers!
“He deserves that honor. Alex was faster than all of us and Alex was a machine. He was built like a machine. Plus on top of all the crazy skill he had, he’s better than all of us. He’s amazing,” former Red Wings legend Sergei Fedorov told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News in 2015.
Fedorov followed Mogilny to the NHL in 1990, a year after Mogilny’s historic defection from the Soviet Union. He was a friend, teammate and natural inspiration to Fedorov so perhaps we should look for an impartial observer, then!
“He’s one of the more talented players I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching,” Maple Leafs head coach Pat Quinn told CBC Sports after Mogilny signed a four-year, $22-million deal with the Maple Leafs in July 2001, in the downswing of his career. “The motive behind this was to try to take a step closer to what we have set out to do — to have a team that competes for the Stanley Cup. There’s no guarantee, but it puts us closer.”
Although this essay advocates for Mogilny’s inclusion, what’s readily apparent is that the Hockey Hall of Fame’s nontransparent selection process looks outright foolish. This is the first time in 14 years that the Hall inducted two women (Natalie Darwitz, Krissy Wendell-Pohl) during the same year, an arbitrary, archaic rule that serves no purpose other than to uphold an old boy’s club — a really, really, old boy’s club when you parse through the electorate. If you want to do some light public relations for the Hall, you can frame it as a win, but it’s ludicrous that the two women per year quota exists in the first place.
Colin Campbell, whose history of poor governance and nepotism should be eminently disqualifying and yet he’s celebrated by the Hall of Fame. David Poile, the son of Hall of Fame builder Bud Poile, presided over a Nashville Predators franchise that made one Final appearance cumulatively. Mogilny, by comparison, is a member of the Triple Gold Club, is more culturally relevant than he has been in decades, he’s won a Stanley Cup, a scoring title and the Lady Byng Trophy. Perhaps because Mogilny has endured through far worse than a lack of recognition from his peers that he remains eminently cool and collected about the Hall’s disrespect.
At the end of the day, the Hockey Hall of Fame is a museum and tourist destination. It should really aspire to celebrate hockey history more often than it purports, lest it arbitrarily govern and rewrite history to its own liking.

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